Puck Daddy - NHL

In which your friends from Puck Daddy and Puck Daddy Radio on The Score Sirius 98 select the winners for Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as well as their conference and Cup champions.

Greg Wyshynski, Editor, Puck Daddy

Washington Capitals in 6
Buffalo Sabres in 6
Boston Bruins in 5
Tampa Bay Lightning in 6

Vancouver Canucks in 7
San Jose Sharks in 5
Detroit Red Wings in 7
Nashville Predators in 7

Stanley Cup Final: Bruins vs. Canucks
Stanley Cup Champion: Canucks
Conn Smythe: Ryan Kesler(notes)

OK, so I'm a flip-flopper on the Buffalo vs. Philadelphia series. I figured Philly in seven for the last few days, but the Chris Pronger(notes) news is less-than-encouraging for the first two games of the series. Dude is a warrior; if he can't go, it has to be something significant. And if he can't go, then what I figured would be the panacea for this team's various ills down the stretch isn't going to cure them. So I'll take red-hot Sabres, continuing the unlikely trend of unfettered optimism in Buffalo, of all places.

The Capitals are deeper than the team that last beat the New York Rangers in 2009, and won't fall into the same defensive traps as in previous postseasons. The Boston Bruins are going to roll in this powder-keg of a series, which is going to burn faster than … OK, whatever they're lighting on fire outside of Bell Centre this year. The Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Lightning series is such a crap-shoot, mostly because the notion of Sidney "Willis Reed-ing" this thing for a Game 6 or 7 is possible. But I like Tampa to earn a split in Pittsburgh and take a commanding lead at home.

[Related: Playoff Power Rankings]

The Nashville pick over the Anaheim Ducks stinks because everyone's making it, and it's hard to puff out your chest about an upset when the dog is now the favorite. The Los Angeles Kings' offense has been about as fugly as their old Burger King sweaters since the Kopitar and Williams injuries. The Red Wings are going to outlast the Phoenix Coyotes, getting Zetterberg back and getting clutch performances from players like The Mule.

The Canucks are going to beat the Chicago Blackhawks because (a) they're deeper and better on the blue line to counter the Hawks' scorers and (b) Roberto Luongo(notes) isn't going to have to answer 10,000 questions about the shape of Dustin Byfuglien's(notes) backside leading up to the series and (c) because I have them winning the Cup so they can't lose in the first round, dummy.

So it's Vancouver out of the West, and Boston out of the East, because I dig their goaltending and their grit and hope their special teams can be something better than middle of the road.

By the way and for the record: Leahy totally cheated off of me (not really).

Sean Leahy, Associate Editor, Puck Daddy

Capitals in 5
Philadelphia Flyers in 6
Bruins in 6
Lightning in 7

Canucks in 6
Sharks in 6
Red Wings in 6
Predators in 7

Stanley Cup Final: Bruins vs. Canucks
Stanley Cup Champion: Canucks
Conn Smythe: Ryan Kesler

Only one of my two preseason picks even made the playoffs (RIP New Jersey Devils), so I'm going to stick with what I believed in September: This is the time for the Vancouver Canucks.

They've dominated since October and despite injuries ravaging their defense crops, have managed to play through that and lead the league in least goals allowed. They'll vanquish the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that's been giving them nightmares the past two seasons, en route to a historic run through the Western Conference.

Have no fear Vancouver. Start planning the parade today.

Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy Columnist

Capitals in 6
Flyers in 7
Bruins in 6
Pittsburgh Penguins in 5

Canucks in 7
Sharks in 5
Phoenix Coyotes in 7
Predators in 6

Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins
Stanley Cup Champion: Canucks
Conn Smythe: Henrik Sedin(notes)

Canucks/Bruins was my Stanley Cup pick in September so I can't really deviate now, can I? Plus, I've seen nothing to dissuade me from that.

Chicago's a tough draw for the Canucks, but they're not exactly the juggernaut they were last year, especially up front. The only thing standing in their way, one supposes, is the psychological factor of "These guys always beat us."

As for the Bruins, well, the East is pretty wide open. The top seed kind of won it pretty quietly despite coming on strong at the end and has replaced defensive question marks with up-front ones. The only team that's giving me pause is the Pens, because if they can get 104 points without Crosby and Malkin, anything's possible.

Justin Bourne, Puck Daddy Columnist

Capitals in 5
Flyers in 7
Bruins in 4
Lightning in 7

Canucks in 5
Sharks in 5
Red Wings in 7
Predators in 6

Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins
Stanley Cup Champion: Canucks
Conn Smythe: Daniel Sedin(notes)

The Vancouver Canucks are finally in a place where they don't need Roberto Luongo to be exceptional to win the Stanley Cup.  If he just plays "fine," the way Antti Niemi(notes) did last year, you have to like their chances.

Their D-corps is the deepest around — probably the only group that could've excelled the way they did with those injury woes, in fact.  On top of that, they've got the two most dangerous humans you can put on the ice together at any given time in the Sedins, combined with enough depth and grit to compete in ways they haven't been able to in playoffs past.

You can pick your underdogs all you like, but they're called upsets for a reason.  The higher seeded teams may not steamroll their opponents — save for the way Boston will Montreal — but they'll persevere in the end.

Dmitry Chesnokov, Puck Daddy Senior Writer

Capitals in 6
Flyers in 6
Montreal Canadiens in 7
Lightning in 7

Chicago Blackhawks in 6
L.A. Kings in 7
Red Wings in 6
Predators in 7

Stanley Cup Final: Red Wings vs. Capitals
Stanley Cup Champion: Red Wings
Conn Smythe: Pavel Datsyuk(notes)

To be honest with you, I am not very good at predictions.  Most of the time, quite the opposite happens. But following the trend of Winter Classic winners going to the finals, this is Washington's turn. The Capitals played this season as if something wasn't quite right with them, yet they finished atop of the Eastern Conference. I have a feeling that only the Flyers and the Bruins can really challenge the Capitals for the stop in the finals.

I think Chicago is Vancouver's "bogey team."  That "da-da-da-da-da-da-da" melody must haunt the Canucks.  But I am going for Detroit to be the winner in the West and to win the whole thing this year.  Why? Tough to say.  But they can just never be written off.  And they have Pavel Datsyuk.

But again, if I was good at predictions, that elusive PowerBall would have been mine by now!

Rob Pizzo, Co-Host, Puck Daddy Radio (The Score Sirius 98)

Capitals in 5
Flyers in 6
Bruins in 6
Penguins in 7

Canucks in 4
Red Wings in 7
Sharks in 4
Predators in 7

Stanley Cup Finals: Canucks vs. Capitals
Stanley Cup Champions: Canucks
Conn Smythe: One of the two guys who shared a womb.

I know what you are thinking, "Way to go out on a limb Pizzo, not only do you pick seven favorites in the first round, but you have BOTH No. 1 seeds meeting in the finals."

My response: Bite me!

The Caps were like a golfer trying to change his swing. You go through some bad times, but once it all comes together, watch out! Last year they wanted to just outscore anyone in their way. This year, their offensive numbers went way down, but they improved their defensive game dramatically.

They are one of the hottest teams going into the playoffs, and still have the taste of last years upset in their mouth.

I truly do believe the Canucks finally break through the barrier this season.

The Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan line in Anaheim may be labeled "the best in hockey," but I have a feeling the Sedin twins and Burrows would get a few votes for that title as well.

Then you have Kesler getting his tux cleaned for the NHL awards ceremony after putting up a career-high 41 goals.  Their defense is solid, they have Bobby Lou in net (and if need be, a great backup in Schneider), and I'm putting my money on the Canucks.

Erin Nicks, Puck Daddy Columnist

Capitals in 7
Flyers in 7
Bruins in 6
Penguins in 7

Canucks in 6
Sharks in 6
Red Wings in 6
Predators in 7

Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins
Stanley Cup Champion: Bruins
Conn Smythe: Tim Thomas(notes)

To be clear: My selection has less to do with Boston winning, and more with Vancouver losing. Every armchair GM keeps insisting this is the Canucks' year, and why not? They put up a formidable showing in the regular season, with a superior performance on both sides of the puck (leading the league in both goals per game with an average of 3.15 and lowest goals against, with 2.20).

However, there's a reason why the Canucks are sometimes referred to as the "Ottawa Senators of the West." We can use hard facts to rationalize why they could steamroll right through until June, but that still doesn't account for what's going on between their ears (or closing around their throats, to a harsher extent). It's those wretched intangibles that often mark the difference between success and failure in the postseason. I'm not convinced that Vancouver can keep their heads calm, cool and collected enough to hoist the Cup, and those questions begin from the net outward. I see the Canucks getting very close this year, but the pressure will be their downfall.

(And if I'm wrong, I'll eat Purdy's chocolate 'til I wretch... possibly on Gary Bettman at this year's draft? Sounds like a Tosh.0 clip in the making…)

Darryl "Dobber" Dobbs, Fantasy Hockey Columnist

Capitals in 5
Flyers in 7
Bruins in 7
Lightning in 6

Canucks in 6
Sharks in 4
Red Wings in 7
Anaheim Ducks in 7

Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Capitals
Stanley Cup Champion: Canucks
Conn Smythe: Alexander Ovechkin

I also really like the Lightning to go to the conference final.

The Caps have been building for this all season long, suffering through all the taunting and the screaming for heads to roll until my voice was hoarse. But they stayed with the plan and changed their style to suit tighter, grittier games. Now we see the dividend. The final will go seven games, which is why you will see a rare occasion where the losing team gets the Conn Smythe winner. While the Sedin twins and Roberto Luongo split the Vancouver vote, Ovechkin stands head and shoulders above them all.

I'm pretty disappointed that Carolina or Dallas couldn't continue their surge into the postseason and that instead we're left with the Rangers and Hawks meekly backing in.

Matt Barr, Stat Nerd

New York Rangers in 6
Sabres in 6
Bruins in 5
Lightning in 6

Blackhawks in 6
Sharks in 4
Red Wings in 5
Predators in 7

Stanley Cup Final: Bruins vs. Red Wings
Stanley Cup Champion: Red Wings
Conn Smythe: Nicklas Lidstrom(notes)

Washington could sweep the Rangers. But if Lundqvist or Captain Clutch win a game early in the series the Rangers have no business winning, I think you see the Caps go from "DEFCON 4 Sphincter Clench" to "DEFCON 2 Pee-Pants," and the end of the series writes itself.

The Flyers/Sabres series ought to be close, but I've become convinced Buffalo's play down the stretch was no temporary spurt. Boston has a complete team that ought to overwhelm the Habs. I was all set to call the Bolts-Pens series for Pittsburgh on account of all the playoff experience, till I remembered an awful lot of key Tampa players have it, too, so let's say the team that will ice better players in the series wins.

The Canucks are already at "DEFCON 1 Build a Time Machine, Go Back To Scotland 30 Years Ago and Kill the Fratelli Family So Chelsea Dagger Never Becomes a Song," even before the series starts. Exploitable, by whoever's left in Chicago. Sharks/Kings! ... The Wings should have a bit less trouble with the Coyotes this year, which, if an end with a whimper hastens the relocation of the gentlemen of Phoenix hockey to Winnipeg, could come back to bite them, since if it were Atlanta that moved, Detroit could swap into the Eastern Conference with all its Eastern Time Zone teams. This, in fact, is why I have the Yotes winning the one game.

Corey Perry(notes), meet Pekka Rinne(notes). But first, meet Shea Weber(notes), soon to be the first $10M/year defenseperson.

From thence shall emerge Detroit, San Jose and Boston without too much hoohah, while a Sabres-Lightning series could be very interesting. In the end, though, the Red Wings beat Boston and win their 12th Cup, and Conn Smythe voters bestow a Lifetime Achievement Award on Nick Lidstrom. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

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